NYC Teachers Union Concerns Potential Staffing Issues As Vaccine Deadline Approaches

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NEW YORK (CBSNew York) – Schools in New York City prepare for a big test as the city’s vaccination mandate goes into effect in just days.

All Ministry of Education employees must get their first COVID-19 vaccine by Monday, or lose their jobs.

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Some fear that this could lead to a shortage of teachers.

As TBEN’s Andrea Grymes reported on Thursday, Mayor Bill de Blasio said the town is in good shape, but the teachers’ union said there was no contingency plan for next week. .

“Hopefully they’ll all be here on Monday,” parent Eddie Venegas said.

Venegas has high hopes for the staff at his daughter’s school, Public School 17 in Astoria.

COVID VACCINE

All employees of the city’s education ministry must get at least one COVID vaccine before 5 p.m. Monday, or lose their jobs.

“Even if there is a staff shortage, it’s better than having unvaccinated people in our schools,” Venegas said.

The teachers’ union said it had encouraged its members to get vaccinated, but called on the mayor to have no contingency plan for potential staffing issues next week.

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The president of the United Teachers’ Federation, Michael Mulgrew, said that to date, about 6,000 of their 120,000 members remain unvaccinated.

“Tuesday, are we going to have a school where we will put 150 children inside an auditorium with two teachers because the city has not prepared well? Mulgrew asked.

Brooklyn City Councilor and Education Committee Chairman Mark Treyger also expressed concern on Twitter.

“Hear central DOE staff told that many will be redeployed to schools to deal with staff shortages expected next week. However, it is not known whether they are required to teach. They can only supervise. Additionally, schools expect disruptions in school food and cleaning services, ”Treyger wrote.

“We have thousands upon thousands of vaccinated and experienced substitute teachers ready to go. This is the obvious first step. But it is also true that the central staff has thousands of educators, certified educators who could take on different roles if necessary, ”said de Blasio.

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On Wednesday evening, a judge ruled in favor of the city, allowing the vaccination mandate to continue for now, after the UFT and other unions sued.

“The reality that we are seeing right now is that we believe the overwhelming majority of our educators and staff will be there on Monday after receiving that first dose and moving forward,” said de Blasio.

CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC

Back in Astoria, many parents told Grymes they were in favor of the warrant, which was returned three weeks before the start of the school year.

“I’m concerned about staff shortages, but I’m more concerned about life,” said grandparent Rob Patterson.

“I also understand, just being told they need to be vaccinated by a certain date with little time, not much notice. So I understand, you know, why they would be upset, but everyone should be vaccinated, ”said parent Jason Greene.

The director’s union called on the City to extend the term of office.

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In response, the DOE said: “The vast majority of employees have been vaccinated and the number will continue to increase over the next few days. We administered 7,000 vaccines to school campuses across the city last week, hired thousands of new teachers and staff, and have a large pool of skilled workers who are ready to replace when needed. “

Meanwhile, New York Governor Kathy Hochul said she was ready for Monday, when the state begins enforcing a vaccination deadline for health workers.

The governor said Thursday she was contacting other countries about a possible safeguard. His administration is already in discussions with the State Department about temporary visas.

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“Bring in temporary workers from places like the Philippines, where many nurses go elsewhere. I literally had this conversation with the Irish Prime Minister when we sat down where I am right now, ”she said. “To everyone I talk to, I say, ‘Do you have any health workers you can contact us with?’ “

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Editor’s note: This story first appeared on September 23, 2021.

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